Clause 16 - Slavery and trafficking prevention orders on application

Part of Modern Slavery Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 2:45 pm on 9 September 2014.

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Photo of David Hanson David Hanson Shadow Minister (Home Affairs) 2:45, 9 September 2014

This a device to tease out from the Minister what the level of proof should be on the prevention orders. The amendments would simply add the words “beyond reasonable doubt” to various parts of the Bill. As the Minister will be aware, the report on the draft Bill looked at the prevention orders and other things that fall into part 2 of the Bill. There was concern about the level of the threshold and how the legal threshold would be determined. Concern was expressed that prevention and risk orders, including interim orders, would cause a range of problems because of the level of evidence required to impose them. I want to give the Minister an opportunity to clarify the matter. In their response to the Joint Committee’s report on the draft Bill, the Government essentially said that they were sticking to their original position on the orders. On page 9 of their response, the Government stated that they had

“reviewed the Committee’s arguments about legal certainty and safeguards with care. The Government will be writing to the Joint Committee on Human Rights to set out in detail why we believe our approach is fully compliant with our human rights obligations. We believe we have set substantial and appropriate safeguards to ensure that the Orders will only be used in appropriate circumstances”.

As we consider the orders in Committee, it is appropriate for the Minister to reflect on those concerns. I have used the words “beyond reasonable doubt” to try to get some indication from her of the evidential threshold that she envisages for application of the orders, given that concern has been expressed by the Magistrates Association and  the Joint Committee that considered the draft Bill. There is still a debate about the matter, on which we have received representations from Liberty and others. I do not want to prolong my contribution; the purpose of the amendments is simply to encourage the Minister to set out what the evidential test will be.